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Twin Escalation Syndrome in toddlers: 8 Essential tips for twin parents

wanguihinga

Multiplesheaven.com Writer

Twin escalation syndrome

Picture this: your two-year-old twin boy starts crying for some reason. His twin brother hears the fuss and decides to cry even louder and longer.

Welcome to the world of Twin Escalation Syndrome (TES), where twins exponentially escalate tantrums and misbehavior in response to each other. If you’re a parent of twins, you might be familiar with this challenging situation. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are eight essential tips to help you gracefully navigate TES while maintaining your sanity.

Recognize the Signs

TES often results from twins competing for their parents’ attention, leading to the “try to outdo” behavior. It can occur from infancy up until early childhood. If your twins are constantly trying to outdo each other with crying or taking up as much space as possible during cuddles, you might be dealing with TES. Understanding twin toddler behavior can help you address TES more effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • Twin escalation syndrome (TES) is a behavioral pattern where twins amplify their tantrums or misbehavior in response to each other, often competing for attention.
  • Managing TES involves staying calm, separating twins when necessary, and using distraction techniques to divert their attention from negative behavior.
  • Creating one-on-one time with each twin and reducing competition can help alleviate TES by making each child feel valued and appreciated.
  • Enforcing time-outs and teaching conflict resolution skills can help twins understand the consequences of their actions and improve their behavior.
  • It’s essential to seek professional help and consult with pediatricians or twin specialists if TES becomes unmanageable or persistent.
  • Raising twins can be challenging, but with proper support and strategies, parents can navigate the unique aspects of raising multiples successfully.
  • Encouraging cooperation, setting boundaries, and promoting healthy communication between twins can help reduce conflict and foster a strong sibling bond.


1. Stay Calm

Remaining calm is crucial when dealing with tantrums, aggressive behavior, or crying toddlers. Keeping your cool will help you manage the situation effectively, while giving in to frustration will only escalate matters. In the event of TES, taking a parent time-out can help you clear your head and determine your next move.

2. Diffuse the Situation Through Diversion

Tantrums can stem from a child’s inability to express themselves, boredom, unhappiness, or even hunger. Redirecting the behavior that arises from tantrums can channel the twins’ negative energy into a positive activity. Try engaging them in a favorite song or a movie they can’t get enough of. In this approach, you act as a neutral mediator, creating a peaceful resolution between your children’s negative behaviors.

Sometimes, TES is initiated by one twin. In such cases, sit them down, try to understand the root cause of this behavior, and take appropriate action to address it. The strategies in managing preschooler behavior in twins can also be helpful in this regard.

3. Separate Your Twins

Physically separating your twins can be an effective solution. Place them in different rooms with minimal interaction when the crying and tantrums begin. This will prevent the “try to outdo” behavior and give you some peace of mind. Separation can also reduce the chances of twin separation anxiety in the future.

4. Minimize Competition

Twins often compete with each other because they are constantly compared to each other. Reducing competition begins with making each child feel valued and appreciated for who they are. Create quality one-on-one time for each twin, doing activities they enjoy and reminding them of their uniqueness. Encourage them to pursue and develop different interests to minimize competition.

It’s natural for twins to crave their parents’ attention, love, and approval. When they don’t receive it, they may act out, misbehave, and trigger TES. Recognizing and addressing their individual needs can help prevent TES. The challenges of parenting twins can seem overwhelming, but with the right approach, you can create a harmonious environment for your children.

5. Implement Time-outs

Time-outs can be an effective way to deal with TES. The goal is to provide a break for both the child and the parent during a tantrum or misbehavior. When used correctly, time-outs can help your twins understand the consequences of their actions and give them the opportunity to calm down. Establish a designated “time-out” area, and ensure it is free from distractions and stimulating activities. Be consistent in applying this technique and use a timer to indicate when the time-out is over.

6. Encourage Cooperation

Fostering a sense of cooperation and teamwork between your twins can help reduce the occurrence of TES. Plan activities that require collaboration, such as puzzles or art projects, and praise them when they work well together. Teaching them the value of teamwork can have long-lasting benefits for their relationship and can reduce the chances of dominance and submissiveness between twins.

7. Set Boundaries and Consequences

Clear boundaries and consequences for misbehavior can help curb TES. When your twins understand that certain actions lead to undesirable consequences, they may be less likely to engage in those behaviors. Ensure that the consequences are age-appropriate, consistent, and enforced immediately after the misbehavior occurs.

8. Seek Professional Help if Necessary

If TES becomes unmanageable, consider seeking professional help from a pediatrician or a child psychologist. They can provide guidance and support tailored to your unique situation and help you implement strategies to reduce TES in your household.

I have identified seven Amazon products that can be helpful for parents dealing with twin escalation syndrome.

Amazon ProductsProsConsCustomer Feedback
Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise MachineCreates a calming environmentMay be too loud for some usersHelps our twins sleep better.
Adjustable soundLimited sound options“A bit too loud for our preference.”
Compact design“Great for traveling.”
Peaceable Kingdom Hoot Owl Hoot – Cooperative Matching GameEncourages cooperation and teamworkMay be too simple for older childrenGreat for teaching teamwork.
Suitable for young childrenLimited replay value“Not challenging enough for older kids.”
High-quality materials“High-quality game.”
Scholastic Parent Child Rewards ChartHelps track progressStickers may not be reusableEffective for tracking progress.
CustomizableMay not stick well to some surfaces“Stickers don’t always stick well.”
Sturdy construction“Durable chart.”
Parenting School-Age Twins and MultiplesOffers guidance and supportMay not cover all topicsHelpful resource.
Addresses unique challengesSome readers may find it repetitive“Could cover more topics.”
Practical advice“Great advice for twin parents.”
TwinGo Original Baby CarrierDesigned for twinsLearning curve for useMakes outings easier.
Allows for one-on-one timeMay be expensive“Took time to learn.”
Comfortable and secure“Pricey but worth it.”
LaviElle Wooden Lacing Watermelon Threading ToyEncourages fine motor skillsToo simple for someImproves fine motor skills.
Engaging and fun designThreading string may lack durability“Simple but engaging.”
Suitable for a wide age range“Had to replace threading string.”
Time Timer Original 12 inchKeeps track of time-outsNot suitable for very young childrenEssential for time-outs.
Visual representation of timeDifficult to set“Tricky to set but useful.”
Quiet and durable“Not suitable for very young kids.”


In conclusion, dealing with Twin Escalation Syndrome can be a challenge for parents of twins. By understanding the signs, staying calm, and employing appropriate strategies, you can help your twins develop a healthy relationship and minimize the occurrence of TES. For more support on your parenting journey, check out our top 5 tips for first-time twin moms, or visit Multiples Heaven for a wealth of resources and advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do you deal with twin escalation syndrome?

A: To deal with twin escalation syndrome, it’s important to stay calm, separate your twins when necessary, diffuse the situation with distraction, create one-on-one time, enforce time-outs, encourage cooperation, set boundaries and consequences, and seek professional help if needed.

Q: What is twin escalation syndrome in toddlers?

A: Twin escalation syndrome (TES) is a behavioral pattern where twins compete for attention and amplify their tantrums or misbehavior in response to one another.

Q: What is twin escalation?

A: Twin escalation refers to the phenomenon where one twin’s behavior or emotional state triggers a response from the other twin, leading to an escalating cycle of behavior or emotions.

Q: What are behavior problems in twins?

A: Behavior problems in twins can include competition for attention, heightened sibling rivalry, twin escalation syndrome, and other common issues that may arise in children when they are raised closely together.

Q: How do you calm a crying twin?

A: Calming a crying twin involves addressing their immediate needs (e.g., hunger, discomfort), offering comfort and soothing techniques, and using distraction or redirection to engage them in a positive activity.

Q: How long to let twins cry it out?

A: The duration for letting twins “cry it out” depends on the parents’ comfort level and the twins’ age. It is essential to ensure that their needs are met before implementing any “cry it out” methods. Consult with a pediatrician for guidance on age-appropriate sleep training techniques.

Q: Are twins more difficult to raise?

A: Raising twins can be more challenging than raising singletons due to the increased demands on the parents’ time, energy, and resources. However, with proper support and strategies, many parents successfully raise twins and enjoy the unique joys of having multiples.

Q: Why do twin sisters fight so much?

A: Twin sisters, like all siblings, may fight due to factors such as competition for attention, differing personalities, and the natural dynamics of close relationships. Encouraging cooperation, setting boundaries, and promoting healthy communication can help reduce conflict.

Q: Why do my twins cry so much?

A: Twins may cry excessively for various reasons, including hunger, tiredness, discomfort, and frustration. Identifying the underlying cause of the crying and addressing it can help soothe your twins and reduce excessive crying.

Q: When should twins sleep in their own room?

A: The decision of when twins should sleep in their own room depends on factors such as the family’s living situation, the twins’ developmental stage, and the parents’ preferences. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing (but not bed-sharing) for the first six months to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

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